The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) and The International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH) have together formed a multidisciplinary Consensus Panel to develop a new guideline for clinicians to manage genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM) in women with or at high risk for breast cancer. GSM is often prevalent in women survivors of breast cancer survivors, as compared to other menopausal women, and commonly left undiagnosed and untreated. This guideline is published in NAMS' official journal, Menopause.
For survivors of breast cancer, not only is GSM more prevalent, but these women may experience its symptoms earlier because of cancer treatments. With the lack of data regarding the safety of vaginal hormone treatments and other alternatives for women with or at high risk for breast cancer, many have avoided using hormone treatments, and clinicians have often been reluctant to prescribe them.
Left untreated, GSM can potentially adversely affect quality of life and partner relationships because of ongoing symptoms, including vulvovaginal dryness, burning, or irritation; painful intercourse; and recurrent urinary tract infections. It is estimated that more than 2 million survivors of breast cancer in the United States are affected by GSM, with most receiving no treatment.
"We want clinicians caring for this at-risk population to be armed with as much information as possible so that they can provide the best course of treatment for their patients," says Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, executive director of NAMS. "Until additional studies are undertaken in this area, we are hopeful these consensus recommendations will provide added confidence for clinicians to move forward with treatment options that will provide relief to women from GSM symptoms."